Taking safe route to summer fun


The outdoors beckons during the long, lazy days of summer.

For many, that can mean sunning and swimming at the beach. But carelessness can make or break an outing.

"Summer means more injuries, more water-related incidents and people with swimming pools have to be particularly careful," said Alan R. Cowen, chief paramedic and emergency services bureau commander for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. "Drownings and near-drownings increase."

Experts say that simple precautions can reduce the risk of injuries for parents and their children. Courses in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation are helpful in knowing what to do if they occur.

Here are a few safety tips for the beach this summer:

Summer brings an average of 300,000 people to the beach on weekends. So chances are pretty good that there's going to be a lost child or two and a few swimmers in trouble.

But you can help reduce the odds before setting out.

"I think a well-planned trip will help make it a nice day," said Los Angeles County Lifeguard Capt. Bob Buchanan.

Parents should make sure their children know the name or number of the nearest lifeguard stand, where they are staying or where the family car is parked and can recognize any landmarks, he said.

Swim near a manned lifeguard station but check with the lifeguard about water conditions before taking that first dip.

Also, don't forget the sunscreen and umbrella.

There are about 500,000 cases of skin cancer each year in the United States. It's believed most results from skin damage occurring before age 18.

The most serious and potentially fatal type of skin cancer, if not caught early, is melanoma.

Dr. David Friedman, a dermatologist, recommends a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 25 to 30. Reapply sunscreen after swimming or perspiring.

And don't forget the kids, especially young children who are more sensitive to the harming rays of the sun.

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